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Who emerged as the heroine(s) and hero: Charlotte Heywood (Rose Williams), Georgiana Lambe (Chrystal Clarke), and Arthur Parker (Turlough Convery) as the kindest truest bravest soul across all three years … all grown older (Sanditon 1-3)

What is needed is a blog which brings all three seasons together … see what you discover, gentle watcher

Dear friends and readers,

Lest there be any doubt in anyone’s mind, as with the two previous seasons, after a while, the third won me over — but again it took time, and it was clinched late in the season, for this one Episode Five. A great help was American bloggers (professional ones too) writing out skeins of recaps, often by way of complaining, but who seemed unable to respond to key Austen-patterned successes.  They did not seem to recognize them.

This last season in particular needs to be watched as a whole, and as it were, superficially, for archetypes and high scenes. There is much richness in moments that are not developed enough, and too many scenes that work as quiet filler; within episodes too, you can have too much switching back and forth as when Georgiana’s mother finally appears, she is made to disappear and we are to ask if she is genuine, and then she appears again, all strong sincerity.

As in previous seasons, you must slide over the over-the-top melodramatic extravagance (there is less of this).  You must dismiss from your mind many characters we have lost along the way.  This season is jagged (with climaxes of an episode coming half-way through, e.g., Georgiana’s trial), as if it were a hurried first draft, and when I’d finished I thought to myself perhaps someone or a team of filmmakers should watch all three seasons, and then carefully revise.

So I admit I have not taken it as seriously as I have some of these Austen film blogs. We will move two episodes at a time, for that is how I saw them, all across one week, back-to-back every other night. I did not try to take notes towards an accurate sequential blow-by-blow account (see recaps) as I’m not sure that would help appreciation.

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Sanditon 3:1-2

All along I have felt Rose Williams captures the old spirit of the Jane Austen heroine as few have done since 2009 — Andrew Davies’s Sense and Sensibility with Charity Wakefield as Marianne and Hattie Morahan as Elinor. Only somewhat updated — as to independence over money and taking a job especially. As people ask and say yes or no about the chemistry between an actor and actress over a central pair of loves, I’d say the chemistry between Rose Williams and Crystal Clarke has been wonderful throughout and continues here. The sister, women’s friendship relationship.

That is the core of the series finally, with Turlough Convery as the central helpful brother-type male. Now that is precisely the true role Mr Knightley plays for Emma, and somewhat less kindly or loyally Edmund for Fanny, and Henry Tilney for Catherine.

I began to notice as I did throughout the second season that patterns of scenes in this season imitate patterns of scenes in the Austen film canon itself. So the way they are dealing with Ben Lloyd-Hughes as Mr Alexander Colbourne is to make him behave emotionally in scenes the way Colin Firth did in the 1995 P&P — the same intense emotionalism, and an act of intervening rescue: he stretches back ten years to make up a quarrel with his lawyer-brother and brings him to defend Georgiana’s rightfully inheriting her father’s property.


Colbourne brothers: Alexander and Samuel

Jack Fox as Sir Edward Denham is our film Wickham up against Anne Reid as our film dragon-lady (from Judy Parfitt as Lady Catherine de Bourgh on), softened towards the end just the way he was in Lost in Austen.


From the heart’s core of the series, the fifth episode (which I advise you to begin with) — Sir Edward and Augusta Colbourne (Eloise Webb) who begins like one of the sisters in P&P but develops intense poignancy

The worst weakness is the character of Ralph Starling (Cai Brigden), a thankless role of a male type who must recognize that after all Charlotte is not the girl for him or his way of life (he is already recognizing this) — for whom I don’t think there is an equivalent in Austen films or the books.  Jane Austen’s Sanditon did introduce a new way of life (commercial ruthless) in her 12 chapters, which became thoroughly weakened ever since the ending of the first season when Theo James as the rough mean thoroughly competitive Mr Sidney Parker dropped out. I’m glad he dropped out for his part was to be the modern male bully who now inhabits costume dramas like Miss Scarlett and the Duke.


From the end of the second season, a momentary coming together of minds — in what seems to be very much an Austen-like pattern

I find the new updated Austen patterns in the depiction of a deserted mistress of the king done too weakly at first, but wonderfully thickening the bringing back of an actress from the first season, Kayleigh Page-Rees as Lady Julia once Beaufort but now Clemente, tenuous mistress to the king; the eager to-be-sexualized spinster, Sandy McDade as Miss Hankins; the quietly homosexual Lord Montrose (Edward Davis) brought in to partner Arthur at series’ end; and a new obnoxious Dowager, Emma Fielding in the thankless role (she is even superfluously spiteful), whose her put-upon daughter (remember Anne de Bourgh from P&P), Lady Lydia is too thin as a character, not given enough storyline. The black housekeeper, Flo Wilson, Mrs Wheatley and her young charge, Colbourne’s daughter by his first wife, are now given nothing to do — that’s why I thought maybe Mrs Wheatley would turn out to be Georgiana’s mother but not so.


Lady Montrose (Emma Fielding); Lydia Montrose (Alice Orr-Ewing); Henry Montrose (Edward Davis) — the stylized presentation recalls the way Mary and Henry Crawford are often presented in Austen films

Others make the piece seem too busy — but I think most of the characters are not quite superfluous or prove they have important roles by the end — even Lady Montrose as our soft-spoken dragon-lady trying to get rid of Georgiana’s mother as an embarrassment (last episode). James Bolam (! — he was in The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner and partnered Barbara Flynn in the ever-to-be loved Beiderbecke Tapes) appears as Rowleigh Pryce, old friend or suitor for Lady Denham’s hand before her second husband, come to invest unscrupulously. As Chris Brindle showed in his development of Sanditon, the new commerce of the era, the patronage banking, without controls, so that corruption was endemic, was meant to be central to Austen’s last novel. So how can we do without Mr Pryce? if only as continuing support for Kris Marshall as Tom Parker and his ever patient far more decent Mary (Kate Ashfield), with him once again embarked on fleecing the vulnerable, this time not the workers but desperately poor people living near beachside.


To the side we see Cai Brigden as Ralph Starling

Along with keeping to the fore the weakened original commercial critique of Austen’s twelve chapters (however attenuated), there is something new worth noting: the case of Charles Lockhardt (Alexander Vlahos) against Georgiana Lambe trying to break the will so he will inherit her property. I’ve discovered Austen is not alone in having “mulatto” characters in her text: you find mulatto women once enslaved as the child of an enslaved concubine, at one point never discussed, probably not recognized in plays such as Richard Steele’s The Conscious Lovers. In real life such people were often fleeced of what the white person who has married, or adopted or tried to make a relative of left for them: this is the case of Johnson’s adopted son, Frank. Not enough time is given to the trial (they do want to get in too much), but its presence like that of Mr Pryce is significant & links us back to the realities of the 18th century (prettied up).

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Worried for Georgiana: Charlotte, Georgiana, Mary Parker (Kate Ashfield) and Samuel Colbourne (Liam Garrigan)

Sanditon 3:3-4

Now having adjusted myself into the series once again, I reminded myself of what the editor of the original Companion to Sanditon began with: they were “trying to present a genuine Austen story, only updated.” For these two episodes I felt the inner life of Charlotte was skirted for too long; best, though, was its Episode 4’s ending where Ralph has arrived to bring (drag) Charlotte back and we see so clearly she wants to live an independent life in Sanditon: she would like to run a school; and despite what seems a genuine sincere nature and love even, Ralph wants to make her into his subject, instrument for life. There is no compromise because there is no modern life back on the farm. Sanditon has become home to several of the major original characters, of whom eight have lasted: the homebodies are now Tom and Mary Parker (2 of the originals), Charlotte (another) yearning for Mr Colbourne (certainly staying put), Arthur, perhaps with Georgiana (2 more) as stout friend or Lord Montrose (not part of original eight), and Lady Denham and Sir Edward (they really have chemistry as aunt and nephew now) and not much noticed but not going away, Adrian Scarborough as Dr Fuchs, beginning to be signed on as the joy, gilding, friend of Miss Hankins (Sarah McDade).


Miss Hankins signalling her concern to Mr Fuchs (this is episode 6 where Mary has become seriously ill), the disapproving brother by her side

We get only so few inward phrases to explain to us why Charlotte hangs on to an an engagement she obviously wants deeply out of: how did it happen; why does she feel she is bound by her parents’ need suddenly; the break with Colbourne over her originallhy thoughtful and feminist governessing was very hurtful for her, but it is so clear he regrets it and at the end of episode 3, he rushes out to encounter her on the beach (stops her coach)  and speaks the Darcy/Wentworth-echoing words: how “devoutly he admires her,” she “pierces his soul,” but the lack of any verbal originality is overcome by the physicality of the kiss and the way the two actors do have real chemistry as they close in on one another. I loved this moment. I re-watched by pressing pause, rewind, and then moving forward.

Episode 3 had the dramatic climax of Georgiana’s inheritance vindicated. Colbourne’s brother, Samuel (Liam Garrigan) is a good barrister: the case involves displaying before us misogynistic attitudes towards women, ugly acceptance of slavery, and everyone close to Georgiana is involved. The reality is Charles Lockhardt has no case: there is the will, there are her father’s letters.


The trial scene

Woven in with this is the romance of Lady Denham with Mr Pryce: it is sweetly and wittily done. We watch Lord Montrose slowly awaken Arthur Parker to his feelings, and then when Henry Lord Montrose’s coming marriage to Georgiana is announced. Both Henry and Georgiana are trying to use this as a cover-up, as protection (Montrose’s awful mother threatens him), Arthur is very hurt — this character’s feelings are done more justice to than Charlotte’s. Colbourne understandably (you are to think of him as a Darcy character protecting a niece rather than a sister) refuses permission for Edward to court Augusta, and Edward proposes he and Augusta run away, and they elope towards the end of Georgiana’s second (!) party (how many parties does this young woman need?). I cannot tell if Sir Edward is doing this coolly for the money or has any feelings for Augusta: he wants to escape the tyranny of the aunt and the shallow or seeming hypocrisy of Mr Hankins (a quiet satire on evangelism going on). Miss Hankins becomes the person who aids and abets Edward (quite like a Henry James story, the older woman enlisted to help the dubious young man)

To enjoy it you as in the first season have a lot to overlook. I’d like more on Colbourne’s brother Edward and his friendship with Lady Julia de Clemente (cast off mistress of the king). A genuine relationship of compatibility is developing. I’d like to know more about the intelligence and understanding of Lady Lydia: does she know Colbourne loves Miss Heywood — does she have real feelings one way or the other about marriage for real — or is it all pretense to keep the mother at bay?


Lady Julia and Charlotte as older woman friend (mentor) and our heroine (the type Mrs Gardiner and Elizabeth, showing a knowledge of the original P&P)

Meanwhile Tom is fighting with, berating Mary for fighting his plan to knock down a poor settlement (the original one) near the beach of Sanditon or at least force him to find other housing for these people. So Mary is asserting who she is and this is couched in these terms. The show does care for the poor woman we see and it’s Charlotte who wants to educate another young daughter who is a member of a far too large family with a mother over-worn with care.

I liked the attempt to link back; Charlotte’s relationship with Lady Julia is like Elizabeth Bennet’s with Mrs Gardener. Otis turned up again (played by the same actor, Jyuddah Jaymes) and so he is made real. There are several references to characters we met in the first season: Edward we find feels guilty about Clara, who gave birth to his “son” (his first acknowledgement of parenthood meant seriously) and gave the baby to Esther to bring home to Lord Babington.

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Sanditon: 3:5-6


Alexander Colbourne (Ben Lloyd-Hughes) & Charlotte Heywood — the depth of natural interdependence & trust & understanding that has grown

The fifth episode is the center of season: finally throughout the inner lives of these characters were ripped out before us, in different ways of course, depending on their nature. What happens is for the hour we go down “rabbit holes” for just about all the characters’ in conflict or who are unresolved or unhappy in some way, and while they are confused, disoriented and don’t quite known how to climb out (especially w/o some searing humiliation for both or either), we, the audience, are made to be anxious, to fear they will not be overcome by the obstacles they can’t seem to get over. I particularly loved the scene between Colbourne and Charlotte in the carriage while they are on the successful hunt for Augusta and Edward.


Colbourne and Charlotte are on time: they confront Edward and Augusta and to his credit, Edward says he does not love Augusta

The characters (and the same actors) from the first season who had been brought back (Lady Julia de Clemente and Otis) now are part of what’s centrally happening in their sub-stories; in addition, mention is made of other vanished characters, accounting for them: Edward shows that he does have a heart and remembers in his kind refusal to take advantage of Augusta Clara, Esther, and “my son”; of course Sidney was never forgotten. And not everyone could be brought back, e.g., Mr Stringer (Rob Jarvis), the working manager for Tom Parker’s building. The actress playing Georgiana’s mother, Agnes Harmon (Sharlene Whyte), at the last hour (you are not supposed to introduce a major character in the second to last scene of a play) performs miracles of depth, persuasion, without being over sentimental. Emma Fielding’s use of the pretend apology, the soft tone as a cover for continual spite was convincing. They showed what the series has been capable of.

In the end the series was humane and kindly.

The ending was hard to pull off because all these rabbit holes had to be climbed out of plus the characters had to re-assert who they really were and why they wanted to be in the particular relationship for the rest of their lives. They did it. There are character types who are commenting choral characters: that has been the new lawyer-brother Samuel Colbourne (Liam Garrigan) and Lady Julia da Clemente who keeps to her role a Mrs Gardiner to Charlotte-Elizabeth. When she finally gives up her relationship with the powerful king for Samuel Colborne, I like them the distanced shot of them as a pair walking along the beach.

Lady Denham started out as a harridan (as in the book), hard and mean, but by the middle of the 2nd season, the financial reasons for this were gone; Tom Parker was also at a loss by the middle of the 2nd season. That’s why Mr Pryce was brought in but James Bolam just couldn’t get the capitalist juices up.

There was too much play over Georgiana’s mother, was she or was she not authentic? But when the final scenes of them together emerged, the actresses did it creditably

The sixth episode begins with Mary Parker coming near death: so hard worked has she been is the idea, and so desolated by her husband’s conduct to her. She has caught the disease from the children she visited. I found very moving how Arthur stayed by her side as well as Georgiana and Charlotte.

I kept coming close to tears and rejoiced when Colbourne came out with an original eloquence worthy his Darcy-Wentworth presence with Charlotte who has matured into an individualized forceful woman resolved never to hurt others. Their backdrop the wild landscape and beach — as it were forever. I loved his (absurd) line about how he cannot imagine how fathomless their feelings for one another will be once they have spent a lifetime together.

She didn’t break with Ralph apparently because he loved her so — I don’t doubt if someone where to novelize this you’d have had to have flashbacks of their Fanny Price-loving-Edmund type childhood together.


Arthur and Harry Lord Montrose — at last

One last moment returned us to the old tongue-in-cheek wish fulfillment scene of Charlotte having it all — the adoring husband, the beautiful baby, the job she has always wanted. I liked the floating stills of Arthur-Harry Montrose happy at last, Georgiana with Otis (the actor is much better dressed than 4 years ago and very elegant) and her mother on their way to dedicating their lives to ending slavery. Mr Fuchs coming to dinner with the Hankins, Mr Pryce vowing to visit Lady Denham (no longer the harridan she began as) and Tom at last handing over reins to Mary.


Georgiana and Otis married


Charlotte and Alexander leaving the church

Only Edward was left out with Augusta handed over to a new actor who looked appropriate. That was/is a mistake. We should have been shown Edward and Augusta getting together on new frank grounds at last, and there is hope because improbably Lady Denham has given him an appointment as a curate — we glimpse him in grey at the back of the church.


Mary and Tom watching the others — as a heroine, Mary was there the most, endured the most, is my choice as survivor because of the difficulty of living with such a husband

All have won and all must have good prizes. No one lost who deserved to win — I’d instance Charles Lockhardt and Lady Montrose as two who deserved to lose, and they are lost to view at the close. One loss was the beach. Amid all the working hard at stories and characters, the sheer energy and vitality, the invitation to enjoy the beach vicariously of the first season is what I’d like to remember. So in honor again of that the long shot of Lady Julia and Samuel Colbourne congratulating themselves on their and his brother’s happy ending

Ellen

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Natalia Ginzburg in her older years (1917-1991)

Dear Friends and readers,

I’ve written twice now about Natalia Ginzburg in my blogs, once as one of several women writers I’ve been reading in the last few months; and once as one of four Jewish Italian writers whose lives were shaped by the fascist regime and horizon of fascism they had to live with across nearly 3 decades, one of which was a time of a peculiarly brutal war. It included an attempt to exterminate millions of people on the basis of an ethnicity, Jewishness, on the basis of socialist, anti-fascist and communist beliefs, and on the basis of a perceived non-traditional or non-heterosexual sexuality. All of them knew the terror of fleeing militia come to their houses, to take them away to arrest, imprison, perhaps torture and kill them (which did happen to Natalia’s husband, Leone, one at least came close to death (see On Surviving Fascism: Primo Levi, Natalia Ginzburg, Carlo Levi, Giorgio Bassanio).

I want to reprise Natalia at full length (for a blog) because since then I’ve read four more of her books, more of her essays, more about her, and I think she belongs here on my blog dedicated to women artists (rather then my more general blog). I feel I know her better. I’ve reread her Family Lexicon or sayings at least three times more. Equally to the point, I’ve read her far more open, revealing, thoughtfully original and riveting books of autobiographical meditations: The Little Virtues and A Place to Live In. Delightful satiric sketches of England alternate with meditations on places of exile. Winter in Abruzzo is a good introduction to Christ Stopped at Eboli. How she went walking and neighbors thought her crazy to do it in winter. At one point in the book she says she did not realize the couple of years she spent there with Leon and two children and had a third were in some ways the happiest of her existence. They began Proust. They were thrown upon one another. Their apartment hunting in Rome. How her world comes alive from within.

Family Sayings is the book by her known best, and includes a wide swathe of 20th century history in Italy as a backdrop to this family chronicle. It has all the characteristics of l’ecriture-femme: cyclical, a deeply private or personal (if inarticulated) viewpoint, a mother-daughter paradigm at its center; a portrait of herself as a mother, marriage to a beloved man as pivotal. de-centered: she hardly ever gives us her or her family’s thoughts hidden from the collective outward life; the anecdotes are mostly about others, with her as the quietly presiding POV. Yet the book is about her life, starting with the time she has consecutive memories at age 5 to near the end of her life when she visited England with her second husband, and now somehow freed of her immediate Italian world can spill out what happened the intimate events and calamities inflicted on her family and close friends and associates as well as their relationships, achievements, losses

Part of the reason for her reticence is this is a memoir, all the people are real, and the events really happened, so she must protect them and herself. I suggest frustration at this led Peg Boyers to write the feelings and thoughts we do surmise (we are given enough to extrapolate) in a series of fictionalized autobiographical poems (written as if written by Natalia), Hard Bread, that give Natalia’s repressed reactions and only partly expressed critiques (even in the autobiographical essays) and celebrations full play. The most extended section is about Cesare Pavese who worked closely with her husband, who she worked with at Einaudi, and who appears to have frequently had suicidal thoughts – who wouldn’t during WW2 – and hated surprises. I take it he didn’t care for liminality – crossing from one mode of existence into another, enduring uncertainty. He visited the US, translated famous American classics into Italian (like Moby Dick famous book is very Thomas Hardy like: The Moon and the Bonfires.

Family sayings are repeated phrases, words, sentences that the family uses as collective comic glue for themselves. And we can track them (as they add and subtract people) from one place to another as they move around Italy, or are forced to move, hide, become imprisoned, escape (her brother swam across a part of the Mediterranean in winter to reach unoccupied France). I loved her plain matter-of-fact style: simple sentences expect us to provide in-depth understanding as when she says of Jewish and other displaced now vulnerable peoples they are “without a country.” While the surface is prosaic, quietly telling about all sorts of interesting people (many involved in politics and literature), the underlying pattern is tragic. Boyers calls her style and tone “astringent yet passionate.” The refrain: I never saw him again (of her husband); they never saw one another again. Like Virginia Woolf in Jacob’s Room, she produces a portrait of humanity as seen through the lens of an Italian secular and political and only partly Jewish culture (her family had been thoroughly assimilated until suddenly ostracized, under attack, mortally threatened) — during a time of aggressive fascism.

This poem is imagined as by Natalia when she brings out of prison the small box of things found in her husband’s cell after his terrible death:

Prison Box: Inventory (Rome, February 1944)

copy War and Peace
cyrillic type
(fading, spine bent)

cashmere scarf,
arm length
(dirty, white, torn)

photographs of a girl,
two boys
and a woman (frayed at the edges)

pencil stubs
(carbon
tips spent)

lined spiral notebook
(nine pages left,
yellowed, blank)

pair of wire-rimmed glasses
(left lens shattered,
nose support gone)

— from Peg Boyers’ Hard Bread, a poetic autobiography for Natalia, this poem the imagined box of things she could have gotten after her husband, Leone, had been tortured to death

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In the New Statesman, the book was called a portrait of her family

A more concrete way of describing Family Lexicon:

The book follows the contours of Natalia’s life. She omits dates and it’s fair to say some crucial events in her personal life seem to be brushed over – like how did she and Leone fall in love, what was their wedding like, the couple of years together in exile; how did she come to marry a second man, live with him in England – yet I put to you she is central – her tone, she is the narrator shaping our feelings and thoughts about the characters she presents and although not a novel there is a high point and crises and denouement for her and her brothers and mother and father.

A real structure emerges aligned with her family’s life. It is the story of her family. A few dates: she’s the fifth child of a Jewish a renowned Professor and Catholic mother living in Turin. She was born 1916, died 1991. So across the 20th century. Her parents secular, her brothers atheists, very active as anti-fascists – of the artisan intellectual class – think of Thomas Paine not that far off. Married Leone Ginzburg 1938 and there were 3 children. One of them Carlo became a much respected historian. Leon died in prison after enduring horrific torture (it’s said including a mock crucifixion). He had been a communist but so were many so I don’t know why he was so singled out. It reminds me of the German philosopher Dietrich Bonhoeffer who also died terribly after participating in a semi-famous attempt to kill Hitler. When they returned from exile they went to Rome and proceeded to publish an anti-fascist newspaper – had it been me I’d have fled. She remarries in 1950, Gabriele Baldini a scholar of English literature, spent time with him in England (very funny sketches), he died in 1969.

Her writing career began early in the sense she began to write early but first publication was 1933 I Bambini. She spent a long time as an editor at the respected publisher Einaudi; she was probably one of the people who rejected Lampedusa’s Leopard and who made the publication of holocaust memoirs slow. Curious they were very keen on Pasternak’s Dr Zhivago, the American assumed it was simply an anti-communist book. She wrote. 11 what’s called novels, 5 books of essays, much of it partly life writing, much profound despite easy style and wry manner, a number of plays.

Further Contexts:

One is the connection to the holocaust memoirs: her book shows a drive to remember, to record what was and to tell of what the experience of fascism was within the family. A desire to bear witness. She is very concerned not to exaggerate or say something that is not. That’s partly why it seems so jagged. She has not smoothed things out. She tells what she remembers almost as she is remembering it and some of it is way out of chronology.

Two the questions I sent I list pages where you can find the adventures and final fates of her three brothers and Adriano Olivetti who married her sister Paola. No. 4. Another question I simply listed all the places in the text that Leone Ginzburg occurs in – if you want to see how she feels about him you have to go from point to point.

I think after her father and her mother the most coherent portrait of a character in the book is Cesare Pavese, a novelist and essayist and translator (of American texts) of the era – as she was. Like Carlo Levi, Pavese worked with Ginzburg’s husband as an anti-fascist political activist (though he did join the fascist party to get a job as a teacher), he also worked with Natalia at Einaudi, the publisher. She was very close to him and for three pages tries to explain how he came to kill himself.

The second context is nostalgia, a deep desire to retreat, a turning away from what is imminently in front of you. Last week someone mentioned Bassani’s Garden of the Finzi-Continis; Family Lexicon is sometimes written about as a very similar kind of book. Her theme is the insufficiency of language to express what is happening about them. So too Bassani – rich Jewish and a fascist for a while – as was Pirandello.

It’s a post-modern book. A post-modern book is one which rejects traditional ideas about hierarchy, what is virtue, and wants to find much more accurate descriptions of what motivates people. They disavow belief in progress. A kind of collapse. I mentioned the first day that Carlo Levi’s book is a poetic masterpiece. If you’ve started you will have seen why I saw that. It is also a political masterpiece. He does something you won’t find in any of our other texts: he goes behind the definitions of fascism or ways of categorizing it to depict specific characters/people he meets who are fuelled by an embittered rage or hatred and explains why and how they got there and how that links to what might seem ridiculous opinions: like at the time being for invading Abysinnia and Ethiopa.

Time after time in the book you feel you have seen the inward working of what is expressed as political ideology. She doesn’t believe in political ideology She’s often quoted (people who are anti-feminist or not feminist love this) as denying she is a feminist though her later books especially focus on women’s worlds and how they are abused, not given equal rights in most areas of life. She isn’t. A political ideology is a mask, a tool. All our writers are strongly sceptical observers. In 1960 when Dr Zhivago won the Nobel prize it has been translated only into Italian where it was an enormous hit. Its sense of a govt that is deeply decadent and and a people out of whack with what were thought historical forces by learned people is the same

There are people who can’t or won’t flee; driven to it, after hiding, a long time elsewhere, return to stay. She was one of these.

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A few critics:

Rachel Cusk wrote a short essay or column on her which appeared in the Times Literary Supplement (April 2018, p 25): Violent Vocation: Natalia Ginzburg, and a “New Template for the Female Voice.” It served as an introduction to Ginzburg’s The Little Virtues. usk suggests that after all Ginzburg was a feminist writer – she denied she was in the category. Not unusual I’m sorry to say. What I told you of was that when she started out she was concerned lest she be dismissed as a woman writer and tried to write like a man. That seems to have meant to her to be impersonal, to hide herself; that Family Lexicon is the turning point and after she writes so very appealingly of herself candidly within limits. Epistolary novels flow from her, more memoirs in the form of life-writing essays on themes. Cusk tells us she was instrumental in forming a woman’s voice for the era; for producing books for the first time which were feminocentric: woman at the center and their lives. Still not easy to do and we still find women using pseudonyms to protect their private lives. The template includes highly violent feelings after silent or not-so-silent violence is inflicted on you; irony, nastiness, indifference to money, courage, contempt for danger, not a desire for success but to be who you are and do what enables you to know your worlds. Yes all that. Not open about sex itself.

Her followers include then Elsa Morante, Anna Banti, Anna Maria Ortese, Sibylla Aleramo, Alba de Cespedes, Elena Ferrante.

Mary Gordon’s life and works of Ginzburg in the New York Times Magazine. She’s a well-known American novelist, often writes stories where her characters are influenced by Catholicism. She tells us she first came across Natalia Ginzburg when she was traveling in 1971 as a young college student and in Florence came across a copy of The Little Virtues, was entranced, the only women writer of a book in the whole Italian book store. This essay is about her coming to visit and interview Ginzburg many years later, and they go out to supper together. Mary Gordon basic idea is Ginzburg is an iconoclast; she takes up positions that are not expected or popular. At the time Ginzburg had written a piece siding with adoptive parents in a controversial trial. Very unusual. Gordon retells the family’s endurance and ordeals and flights in WW2, the terrible fate of Leon Ginzburg; how few women were published writers when Ginzburg began her writing career; she smoked heavily – the ambiance of her apartment, Ginzburg’s love of Chekhov. Why did she write a family chronicle? She had just written one of Manzoni’s family instead of a biography of the famous author of the Bethrothed.

Small virtues are the ones that matter. You should not be trying to pass on the great bourgeois norms of prudence, money-making, ambition, thrift, self first, caution, but rather idealism, generosity, greatness of vision, self-sacrifice and whatever is best in the child’s character. I agree with her – no need to repeat what they’ll hear on TV commercials and maybe in mainstream schools. Her writing was not a career to make money and gain fame, but her vocation.

Joan Acocella in the New Yorker finds parallels between attitudes of mind in Ginzburg and Virginia Woolf – Ginzburg a slightly younger generation but also with an academic father, well educated and upper class but at home mother. She quotes from Ginzburg’s My Vocation:

A particular sympathy grows up between us and the characters we invent—that our debilitated imagination is still just able to invent—a sympathy that is tender and almost maternal, warm and damp with tears, intimately physical and stifling. We are deeply, painfully rooted in every being and thing in the world, the world which has become filled with echoes and trembling and shadows, to which we are bound by a devout and passionate pity. Then we risk foundering on a dark lake of stagnant, dead water, and dragging our mind’s creations down with us, so that they are left to perish among dead rats and rotting flowers in a dark, warm whirlpool.

In the Los Angeles Review of Books, Eric Gudas offers more traditional literary criticism. He found it funny at moments but it is a meditation on memory and story telling. Our author is dredging up memories as they come to her and writing them down.

Turati and Kuliscioff [not married to one another and so an embarrasment to the mother] were ever-present in my mother’s reminiscences. I knew they were both still alive and living in Milan (perhaps together, perhaps in two different apartments) and that they were still involved in politics and the fight against fascism. Nevertheless, in my imagination, they had become tangled up with other figures who were also ever-present in my mother’s reminiscences: her parents, Silvio, the Lunatic, Barbison. People who were either dead or, if still alive, very old and belonging to a distant time, to far-off events when my mother was a child … even if I were to meet them and touch them they were not the same as the ones I imagined and even if they were still alive they were in any case tainted by their proximity to the dead with whom they dwelled in my soul; and they had taken up the step of the dead, light and elusive

My own last thought for noiw: that Family Lexicon represents a turning point in her life – that before this time in England, she was anxious, frightened, nervous about publishing as a woman, as a distinctively woman’s voice. And that she identified women’s voices with subjectivity and private life; but that writing this book freed her.

We might look about all these family sayings – however painful and ambiguous all these jokes are – as a form of cleansing. For her father I think his rants – are a way of exorcizing anger, anxiety, a sense of helplessness. I shall return and read much more by and about her.

Ellen

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Charlotte Delbo, Auschwitz and After, translated from the French by Rose Lamont (a trilogy)

You cannot just add women in or replace men with women and stir — and assume you have the same situation — Elizabeth Minnick, Transforming Knowledge

Dear friends and readers,

Over the past month I attended via zoom, a four session class called Women’s Holocaust Memoirs, led by two professors (of women’s studies among other things), Evi Beck and Angelika Bammer. We read the above stunning, astonishing literary masterpiece, Charlotte Delbo’s Auschwitz and After (published 1965-71), two hardly less extraordinary brilliant fragmentary-seeming texts, Sarah Kofman’s Rue Ordener Rue Labat, translated (also) from the French by Ann Smock (published 1993); Carolina Klop’s (pseudonym Carl Friedman), Nightfather, translated from the Dutch by Arnold and Erica Pomerans (published 1991), and the much better known retrospective meditative (insightful, highly intelligent but still angry) Ruth Kluger’s inclusive Still Alive: A Holocaust Girlhood Remembered (published in German 1992; revised and published in English 2001).


Kluger reading aloud the first paragraph of her memoir ….

I was deeply moved by Delbo’s trilogy especially (it is comparable to Primo Levi’s If This Be Man, and The Truce), educated into the frighteningly horrible (hardly believable) worlds of the WW2 Slave Labor and Death Camps by the first and part of the second volume; by Kluger’s Still Alive made to think about in an unsentimental frame of mind barbaric abuse, torture and killing of people against a backdrop of our common amoral society. Let us not forget how fascism targets many groups besides the “racially stigmatized” (here Jews): Delbo was a political prisoner; disabled and LGBTQ people, socialists were all enslaved and/or murdered.

It was something of a privilege to have the company of the two professors; Evi Beck was born in Austria in 1933 and lived under the Nazi regime; she has been teaching and writing in the area of women’s studies from the 1970s; Angelika Bammer, born of German parents, has made holocaust as well as women’s studies and comparative literature her life’s work. The perspective of the class was that of a female (or feminine, feminist) lens (very like what I had been teaching over at OLLI at AU, in The Heroine’s Journey): most discussion of the holocaust is partly based on men’s memoirs; when the Holocaust Museum in DC was opened, there was a resistance against even including women’s memoirs.

We discussed women’s histories, e.g., Marian Kaplan’s Between Dignity and Despair, a history of Jewish life from the time the edicts of restriction began until the time the arrests started, and people began to flee, go into hiding: why did these people behave the way they did? And we saw all month, women’s memoirs differ considerably from men’s in experience, in artful patterns, in themes, attitudes, tropes, most of which I was outlining in my course using very different books (an anthology is by Myra Goldenberg, Same Horrors, Different Hells). Joan Ringelheim can be found on YouTube discussing how women did in the long term; conditions were different, treatment (rape, forced prostitution, pregnancies, children with them)

The mother-daughter pattern is overtly central to two of these books: Rue Ordoner Rue Labat and Still Alive.  (It also becomes central in Christa Wolf’s German-centered account of her childhood in Nazi Germany and during the war, Patterns of Childhood; Wolf’s book includes a flight from the Russians during their invasion of Germany). The mother-daughter pattern serves as a paradigm of oppression in these Kofman and Kluger.  Kofman’s book tells of her mother’s fierce struggle to keep her daughter, Sarah, with her. Ruth’s mother also refused to allow her daughter to try to escape with the help of strangers. Mrs Kofman, though, has violently to wrest her daughter back from a French woman who rescued and hid them both, and then begins in effect to re-make Sarah into a French child and daughter of hers. The French woman was much kinder in behavior, less domineering; Sarah’s mother (often in an hysteria) repeatedly beats her. Kofman’s father was a rabbi, and we see among Sarah’s mother’s frustrations was her husband leaned her on, demanding things she could not produce, while himself avoiding decision-making.

Kluger herself discusses her book on YouTube: https://www.c-span.org/video/?168914-1/still-alive-holocaust-girlhood-remembered

What is most distinctive about Still Alive is the honesty with which Kluger characterizes the people she meets; it is a memoir written many years later (as the other three were not), no false pieties; she tells what life under fascism felt like, and the hardships and indifference refugees from the camps had to confront and cope with upon returning to what had been a home or (more common for Jewish people), emigrating elsewhere. Kluger remains bitter against her mother’s values (very conventional), those of the society that permitted (I’d say even encouraged) the Nazi rise, and hardly changed its values and norms at all once the immediate aftermath of desperate need and collapse of nation-states was over. Both Kluger and Delbo astonished me with their insights into the relationship of trauma, depression, and self-destruction; why people want to destroy themselves after such an experience. Both have the wide perspective of before, during and life long afterwards (much like the powerful, truthful and great French serial on the Vichy regime in France, A French Village)

Nightfather centers on the father of a family who has returned from the camps and remains obsessed by his memories; the camp experience is continually present in his mind; everything everyone around him says or does he responds to with comparative comments that are comical (a good deal of sardonic humor in the book), angry, sad, traumatizing; he is a shattered man who has to be taken to an asylum for ten years. Klop is very equivocal about her gender and feels a stranger vis-a-vis her older brothers. Nightfather is a book whose focus are three siblings, with the mother there as a stabilizing force (a real heroine who we hear studies the Odyssey). You can apply to it Adrienne Rich’s

“With whom do you believe your lot is cast?
From where does your strength come?
I think somehow, somewhere
every poem of mine must repeat those questions
which are not the same. There is a whom, a where
that is not chosen that is given and sometimes falsely given
in the beginning we grasp whatever we can
to survive”

The two fragmentary-seeming (they are very artful) and short books, Nightfather and Rue Ordoner Rue Labat expose the falseness of what is said to be heroic behavior; the cost of it when it conforms to violence, coolness, of who is considered worthy. Both were written long after the experience; Kofman killed herself the year after she published hers, though like Klop (Friedman) and Kluger, she rose to a respected position as a writer and in universities. The impulse to run away is powerful in these fragments. At the same time, again and again there is a terror at separation from those your identity is bound up with; one reaction is dissociation, boundaries around you dissolving; another is to try to vanish.

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I feel awe in the presence of Christine Delbo’s books (you see the second just above): Auschwitz and After, the one we read, is so beautifully written, artfully shaped continually, the experiences so beyond real comprehension for those who have not known what she has but made almost visceral and felt and re-lived by the way she weaves present, past, her own story in prose pieces of one to four pages with the stories of the 238 women who was brought with her to Auschwitz (49 survived); all interspersed with poetry.

There are three parts: None of us will return has the hardest material to read, graphic and unflinching descriptions include a SS person sic-cing a raging dog on a prisoner. The brutality in Auschwitz is accompanied by mockery; bestial criminals whipped, starved, continually screamed at, and did all they could to shatter their victims. It is written in a relentless present, breathless, and as the scope expands, you feel you are getting a distillation . The first half of Useless Knowledge is about day-to-day life in the next two camps Delbo found herself taken to, both considerably less harsh than Auschwitz (or she would never have survived); the second half has the Swedish Red Cross coming to the camp as the Germans are defeated and flee in early 1945. Delbo’s first response when she finds herself free and in a building she is supposed to integrate herself with other in is utter bewilderment, an inability to function without someone helping her. She cannot take in ordinary life any more. She cries and cries. The third part The Measure of Our Days tells of her life afterwards mixed with her re-enacting the lives of those 238 women in the camps who died, and those who survived (though made into different people). How time passes as people live and morph on. As with Delbo’s other book, Convoy to Auschwitz, Delbo commemorates every woman she can in the third part of her book. The coda is a series of poignant poems which urge the reader and all to live on, to find some joy, to dance, to sing.

The themes include the ambiguities of the ways in which memories work in the human mind; the creativity of the imagination given the slightest opportunity (in Part Two the women put on a play by Moliere); the idea that Delbo has died and it is a copy of herself, a mask you are meeting and she is getting through the world in; storytelling itself in the book is self-conscious or self-aware. She uses the “we” for her central voice; she addresses the reader as “you.” Terrifying quiet experiences include the finding of a teddy bear as a present during Christmas and realizing it is leftover from a child see hugging it intensely before she was taken with her other to be gassed to death. We see repeatedly how holding themselves together as a group, by looking out for one another, remaining tightly together insofar as this is possible, they are enabled to survive. Primo Levi similarly survived though his relationships, but he presents himself as an individual. Delbo thinks of herself as embedded with others, but she also shows herself ready to die at moments, and then comes along someone with protection of some sort for her space, a shield, a hand held out.

On Convoy To Auschwitz

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The two professors felt what tied all four books together was the focus in them on relationships, on what the people did for one another, what they did with one another, the way relationships sustain and destroy: the violence people can inflict (emotional is included here) and comradeship. The books do not tell us of the worlds of the Nazi guards; the emphasis is wholly on those experiencing not implementing. Intimacy is a way of asserting personal life. For women especially the SS demands that they stand naked so they can be assessed as to which to kill and which to allow to live on; such scenes in these books are unforgettable.

The course ended on them reading aloud recipes from an anthology called In Memory’s Kitchen: this consists of recipes women written down by undernourished, and starving women in a Czech camp: robust, rich, and once beloved dishes.

And then we listened to one of the marching songs of the Partisans (resistance groups), an anthem for the survivors. It was a song sung in German (if I’m not mistaken); but what I found on the Internet is the more commonly known French one:

Ellen

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Emma Thompson as Elinor Dashwood writing to her mother (1995 S&S)

The idea that an Austen character influenced and carried on influencing us is, to my mind & out of my experience, the mark of the “Janeite.” Anyway I dream/think this. It’s a belief I like and almost believe in that when I was in my later teens Elinor Dashwood was a figure for me I could try to emulate, imitate analogously and in so doing save/rescue myself. Her self-control, her prudence, her thinking about things and for herself however she might behave in accordance with apparent or pretended-to social norms (=social cant). As fanciful perhaps I see her in somewhat of that light still now I’m in my 70s. It’s called a role model except I don’t believe people read this way or for role models …


Hattie Morahan as Elinor Dashwood towards the end of the story, looking out at the sea, enduring (2008 S&S)

Ellen

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Ben Wishaw as the lead male, a central sympathetic character in Women Talking (this is the only still I could find in a large size)


Claire Foy as one of the women talking (she is seen as a central dominating presence and she is certainly angry, and “difficult”)


Jessie Buckley, endlessly mentioned as part of the stellar nature of the case (and so complained about as exaggerated, and too sarcastic)

It’s being presented with the same timid mild praise and objection that the film itself practices ,.. I don’t say there is nothing worthy seeing: I see that that the film is a disappointment as feminism and its compromises indicative of our era and mainstream media.

Dear friends and readers,

I make it a policy usually to not review movies I find awful; you get little thanks for it, though it may attract attention. It needs to be bad in some important way: like a book on anorexics which purports to be sympathetic but is actually a vitriolic attack. (Another hatchet job by Kate Chisholm.) This film cannot be described as awful; it is rather wholly inadequate, insulting and as to what is presented for consolation, ludicrously inappropriate for most contemporary people; it moves into badness because it is not being reviewed truthfully: the subject matter on the face of it should be matter for feminism, and its being advertised as feminist; instead the film strips most of the context of what led to the women being in this room, allows us to see hardly anything horrific that has happened (in fact barely describes it) and centers on a useless vote, punctuated by in inset-sweet romance between Wisham as a young man who has himself been ejected from th colony and Maria Rooney as this continuously sweet woman who regards herself as blessed by her enforced pregnancy. It’s worse then tepid, and non-dramatic, the only philosophy presented is that of the Bible (some passages literally taken), and the only fates these women can imagine is to be mothers, grandmothers, to hold hands.

Mick LaSalle of Datebook Movies and TV is the only reviewer who takes the above point of view; I use some of his language. I presume (hope) the book tells the full story of women nightly drugged and raped in a Memnonite community, finally breaking out and going to court. In the movie house I was in the movie opens with these women as girls being indoctrinated into strict obedience. It was like one might imagine a Taliban session. Then we see them in the fields, and sudden switch to them gathered a barn (with Wishaw who as he takes the notes does become a sort of leader). Only at the end of the film do intertitles give the watcher some sense of what the serious case concerned.

In the ads what is focused upon are the rare moments of justified anger and rank misery (after having gone back to her man for one night, Jessie Buckley comes back with a broken arm and badly bruised face). We listen to two teenagers who seem to think themselves very rebellious for smoking. In some of the many reviews of (usually mild) praise, there are complaints about Buckley as giving an exaggerated and caricature performance. Her sarcasm was not appealing it seems. Praise for the older women’s religiosity was profuse. I was by turns bored and irritated. For lukewarm praise see Sheila O’Malleyyon Ebert.com. As the still above A.O Scott’s piece for the NYTimes shows, all too typical moments are let’s console one another


Judith Ivey as one of the group “elders”

This meeting of the women as real people afterwards remembering what the experience had been like sounds more effective (it is an ad).

This has a feel of reality:

Benjamin Lee in The Guardian wisely concentrates on what you do not see in the film (the gaslighting of the real women, told they were having hallucinations): “stiff theatricality” is too kind.

Why do I bother write of it? because this is being served up as feminist. And it’s timid.

It also seems to me indicative of our era and time when it comes to mainstream social media. I finally unsubscribed from The Women’s Review of Books after its last sad years of the unexciting language, compromise and ennui; it’s no wonder that at the end their pages were dominated by trans issues (with to me its alienating nomenclature), Black lesbian writers, chummy columns of what was my favorite serial and novel this season? The problem with the passion of Foy and Buckley is they end up on a bandwagon of women headed out for they know not where, surrounded by children as their natural burden.

What have we seen? why difficult noisy women. I took two courses with Elaine Showalter at Politics and Prose (which runs online courses as part of the bookstore community) towards the end of the pandemic; it seems the new fashionable phrase for radical political women writers is difficult women. So that’s what we saw here with Ben Wishaw kowtowing to their every sensitivity.

Ellen

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Catherine Morland (Felicity Jones) and Henry Tilney (J.J. Feilds) entering the realm of the ancient Abbey, crossing the bridge (2007 Granada/WBGH Northanger Abbey, scripted Andrew Davies)

For a course at the Oscher LifeLong Learning Institute at George Mason University
Day: 4 Thursdays midday, 11:50-1:15 pm online,
F405Z: The Heroine’s Journey
Office located at 4210 Roberts Road, Fairfax, Va 22032
Dr Ellen Moody

Description of Course:

We will explore the archetypal heroine’s journey across genres and centuries in the western Eurocentric tradition, from classical times to our 21st century female detectives. Our foundational books will be Maria Tatar’s The Heroine with 1001 Faces (written as a counterpart to Joseph Campbell’s famous and influential The Hero with a Thousand Faces), and Maureen Murdock’s The Heroine’s Journey (click to reach the whole text online for free). Our four books will be Margaret Atwood’s Penelopiad, Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber and Other Tales; Elena Ferrante’s Lost Daughter; and Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. We will discuss what are journeys, the central experiences, typical plot-designs, characterizations, and events of the lives of our heroines of classical myth, fairy & folk tales (and connected to this historical romance and time-traveling tales), realistic fiction, and the gothic (and connected to this mystery/thrillers, detective stories). There are two recommended films as part of our terrain to be discussed: Outlander, S1E1 (Caitriona Balfe as Claire Beauchamp transported), and Prime Suspect S1E1 (Helen Mirren as Jane Tennison). I will supply some poetry (Atwood, Carol Ann Duffy, Marge Piercy), two scripts (for the serial episode of Outlander and the 2022 film adaptation of The Lost Daughter by Maggie Gyllenhaal), and one parodic modern short story (“Rape Fantasies” by Atwood), all as attachments.


Leda (Olivia Colman) stopping off to look at the sea sometime during her journey there and back (Lost Daughter, 2021)

Required Books (these are the editions I will be using but the class members may choose any edition they want):

Margaret Atwood. The Penelopiad. NY: Grove Press (originally O. W. Toad), 2005, ISBN 978-1-84195-798-2
Angela Carter. The Bloody Chamber and Other Adult Tales. NY: Harper and Row, 1981. ISBN 0-06-090836X (reprinted with new codes many times)
Elena Ferrante. The Lost Daughter, trans. Ann Goldstein. NY: Europa, 2008.
Jane Austen. Northanger Abbey, ed. Susan Fraiman. NY: Norton Critical Edition, 2004. ISBN 978-0-393-097850-6. Another excellent (good introduction, good materials at the back of the book) modern edition is the Longman Cultural text, ed. Marilyn Gaull. NY: Longman (Pearson Educational), 2005. ISBN 0-321-20208-2

Strongly suggested films:

Outlander, Season 1, Episode 1, called “Sassenach” Written Roger Moore, directed John Dahl. Featuring: Caitronia Balfe, Sam Heughan, and Tobias Menzies. Available on Netflix (and Starz), also as a DVD. I can supply a script for this one.
Prime Suspect, Season 1, Episode 1, called “Price to Pay 1 & 2.” Written Lynda La Plante, Directed Christoper Menaul. Featuring Helen Mirren, John Benfield, Tom Bell. Available on BritBox, YouTube and also as a DVD


Kauffmann, Angelica: Penelope Taking Down the Bow of Ulysses (18th century fine painting)

Format: The class will be a mix of informal lecture and group discussion

Jan 26th: Introduction, Atwood’s Penelopiad, with a few of her Circe poems, and Carol Ann Duffy’s “The Big O” (from The World’s Wife)

Feb 2nd: From Carter’s The Bloody Chamber and Other Adult Tales read “The Bloody Chamber” (Bluebeard), “The Courtship of Mr Lyon,” (Beauty and the Beast)”Puss-in-Boots,” “The Lady of the House of Love” (Sleeping Beauty plus), “The Company of Wolves” (Little Red Riding Hood). Please have seen Outlander S1, E1. Another movie you could see is the 1984 Company of Wolves, an extravagant fantasy bringing together a number of Carter’s fairy tales and fables; she is one of the scriptwriters. It’s available on Amazon Prime.

Feb 9th: Ferrante’s The Lost Daughter, with Marge Piercy’s “Morning Athletes” If you are interested, see the film adaptation, The Lost Daughter, scripted & directed Maggie Gryllenhaal; while much is changed, it is absorbing and explains the book (Netflix film, also available as a DVD to buy); it features Olivia Colman, Jessie Buckley, Dakota Johnson, and Jack Farthing (as Leda’s husband). I can supply a script for this one too.

Feb 16th: Austen’s Northanger Abbey, with discussion that links the gothic to modern mystery-thriller and detective stories. I will send by attachment Margaret Atwood’s “Rape Fantasies” (a very short story). Please have seen Prime Suspect S1, E1-2. If you are interested, see the film adaptation, Northanger Abbey, scripted Andrew Davies, directed by Jon Jones; while much is changed, this one is also absorbing and adds to the book (available as a YouTube and DVD); it features beyond the two principals, Carey Mulligan, Liam Cunningham (General Tilney) and Sylvestre Le Touzel (Mrs Allen)


First still of Helen Mirren as Jane Tennison, late arrival at crime scene, driving herself (Prime Suspect, aired 6 & 9 April 1991, “Price to Pay”)

Select bibliography (beyond Tatar’s Heroine with a Thousand Faces and Murdock’s Heroine’s Journey):

Beard, Mary. Confronting the Classics: Traditions, Adventures and Innovations. Liveright, 2013. Early refreshingly jargon-free feminist readings of documents left to us.
Bojar, Karen. In Search of Elena Ferrante: The Novels and the Question of Authorship. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2018.
Carter, Angela. Shaking a Leg: Collected Writings [non-fiction, essays, sketches, journalism], ed Jenny Uglow, introd. Joan Smith. NY: Penguin, 1998
Cavender, Gray and Nancy C. Jurik, Justice Provocateur: Jane Tennison and Policing in Prime Suspect. Urbana: Univ of Illinois Press, 2012.
Cooke, Nathalie. Margaret Atwood: A Critical Companion. Westport, Conn: Greenwood, 2004.
Frankel, Valier Estelle. 3 books: Symbolism & Sources of Outlander: Adoring Outlander: On Fandom, Genre, and Female Audience; Outlander’s Sassenachs: Gender, Race, Orientation, and the Other in the TV series. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2015-17 (also on later books, Duane Meyer, The Highland Scots of North Carolina, 1732-1776. Chapel Hill: Univ of North Carolina, 1961.)
Gilligan, Carol. In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development. 1983; rep, rev Harvard UP, 1993.
Gordon, Edmund. The Invention of Angela Carter: A Biography. London: Chatto & Windus, 2016.
Hirsh, Marianne. The Mother-Daughter Plot: Narrative, Psychoanalysis, Feminism. Indiana: Bloomington UP, 1980
Klein, Kathleen Gregory. The Woman Detective: Gender and Genre. 2nd Edition. Chicago: Univ of Illinois, 1995.
Moody, Ellen, “People that marry can never part: A Reading of Northanger Abbey, Persuasions Online, 3:1 (Winter 2010): https://jasna.org/persuasions/on-line/vol31no1/moody.html ; The Gothic Northanger: A Psyche Paradigm, Paper delivered at a EC/ASECS conference, November 8, 2008 online: http://www.jimandellen.org/austen/gothicna.html ; The Three Northanger Films [includes Ruby in Paradise], Jane Austen’s World (Vic Sandborn, April 6, 2008: online: https://janeaustensworld.com/2008/04/06/the-three-northanger-abbey-films/
Pratt, Annis. Archetypal Patterns in Women’s Fiction. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1981.
Southam, B.C., ed. Northanger Abbey and Persuasion: A Casebook. London: Routledge, 1968.
Stevenson, Anne. “Diana Gabaldon: her novels flout convention.” Publishers Weekly 6 Jan. 1997: 50+. Literature Resource Center. Web. 15 Apr. 2016. Online.
Sullivan, Rosemary. The Red Shoes: Margaret Atwood, Starting Out. Canada: Harper Flamingo, 1998.
Tomalin, Clair. Jane Austen: A Life. NY: Vintage, 1997.
Williams, Anne. The Art of Darkness: A Poetics of Gothic. Chicago: Univ Chicago P, 1995.


Claire (Caitronia Balfe) among the stones, just arrived in 1743 (Outlander S1, E1, 2015)

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Ghazaleh Hedayat (2008)

Dear friends and readers,

I’m honored today to have as a guest blogger M. Mansur Hashemi’s essay, “‘Do you hear their hair?’: About a piece of conceptual art” as translated by Fatemeh Minaei

Three months ago, a protest movement began in Iran. It was instigated by the tragic death of a young girl (Mahsa-Zhina Amini) while detained by the “morality police” who arrested her for not dressing according to the rules of compulsory hijab. The media echoed the event that moved the nation in the name of “woman, life, freedom”.

The following is a translation of a Persian writing that reflects some debates over hijab. It was written about nine years ago highlighting the problem through an interpretation of a work created by an Iranian female artist. The author has written other detailed articles criticizing the mandatory hijab, in which he has predicted the present situation in Iran. But this short poetic writing on an artwork (created by Ghazaleh Hedayat) extracts the essence of the matter. Naturally, the discussed conceptual art can be interpreted in various ways. The author has put it in the context of two bans in Iran, trying to emphasize the complexities of a social conflict. A conflict manifested now in the violent confrontations between the government and persevering teens and youth who fight for their freedom.­ Fatemeh Minaei, 2022 December.

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Imagine the broad plane of a wall. From a distance, you might miss it. But if you look closely, you will see nails. Eight nails, to be exact. Getting closer, you will see the eight iron nails connected by four strands of hair. You feel a tension between the stiffness of the nails against the tender strands of hair. It looks as if the strands are chained to the wall. You hear the daunting sound of a hammer that heightens that feeling. But, with all their fragility, the strands of hair are there. They are not destroyed, despite the collusion between the hammer and nails. They are stretched on the hard surface and this tautness on the broad area, this being tied to the iron nails, enhances their presence.

The strings on a musical instrument are stretched on it and tied to its body, just as those hair strands are tied to the wall. Nevertheless, the very tied-up strings make the unrestricted sound of the music. Those four strands of hair are like strings on the wall. We do not even need to hear any sound those imaginary strings would make. We’ll hear them as soon as we take a look. Apparently, the strands of hair are not supposed to be visible. But they are. Just as for a while, under the new Islamic regime in Iran, musical instruments were not supposed to be seen. Showcases got cleared from any musical instrument. Yet the sound kept on coming out from behind the veils the government ordered. Music survived. It survived until one day the musical instruments came back to the windows and now the only place the musical instruments are not seen is on the Islamic regime’s TV. However, musical instruments are not for watching; they are to be heard. And their sound, the music they create, is now filling up even the official broadcastings of the regime. So seems to be the state for the sound of the locks that were supposed to not be heard. Now the sound that sneaks out from under the slipping scarves can no longer be ignored. The sound of the objecting strands of hair that display themselves despite the morality police, despite the violent surroundings. The veil is no longer working.

A piece of conceptual art sometimes represents a situation not easy to express otherwise. “The Sound of My Hair” by Ghazaleh Hedayat (pictured below) can be interpreted as a representation of a situation. A metaphorical visual translation of a conflict.

I grew up in a pious family and spent my childhood mostly in mosques and Islamic schools. So, I understand how much symbolic that ‘sound’ can become. I feel the taboos and their dreadful power. The imposed patriarchal mentality puts unbearable pressure on a religious man. His mind gets overwhelmed by obsessions that are extremely hard to overcome.

People raised outside the religious stratum of Islamic societies would never comprehend the Hijab issue. Just like the issue of music being impermissible (Haram), sounds being sinful, or musical instruments being devices of ‘libidinous pleasure’, makes no sense to them. The hair of Iranian girls and women not raised in religious families is covered by the force of the regime rules. Just as decades ago, a patriarchal government (ruled by Reza Shah) unveiled the hair of religious Iranian women by force because of a shallow understanding of modernity. The value of individual freedom is missed in both cases. And since the logic of force is not convincing, it was and is doomed to fail.

Now the times are changing. Besides women forced to have hijab or those who chose hijab for a while under the influence of the Zeitgeist, nowadays, even many Iranian girls from religious families prefer not to cover their hair. In an ironic turn of events that can be called, in the words of Hegel, “die List der Vernunft” (the cunning of reason), those girls participated in civic life because the Islamic regime prepared the circumstances their families required, and now they do not see the need for veils.

When you wander in the streets of Iranian cities now, it will be strange if you don’t hear the sound of the strands of hair that want to get free. To get their voice heard despite the repressive surroundings. That reminds me of the interpretable work of Ghazaleh Hedayat. She has visualized a situation that I am sure will continue to cause a stir in our society for a long time. The issue is as complicated and intricate as that work of art: The Sound of My Hair.

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Women’s Rights Activist on Protests Sweeping Iran, the Intensifying Gov’t Crackdown & Executions:

https://www.democracynow.org/2022/12/15/iran_protests_sussan_tahmasebi

Sussan Tahmahsebi:

Over nearly 500 people have been killed — 480, I think, is the last figure that the Human Rights Activists Network reported. Sixty-eight of them are children who have been killed. And the majority of those who have been killed — I mean, at least 50% of those who have been killed are from ethnic minority regions, Kurdish areas and Balochi areas. In Balochistan, just in one day, on Black Friday, which was September 30th, 103 people were shot dead. These were peaceful protesters leaving Friday prayers. And most of them were shot in the back, running away from bullets that the police were shooting at them.

Now, as you mentioned, the violence has reached a new level, where protesters are being sentenced to death. They’re being charged with enmity with God or waging war against God, and they’re being sentenced to death in these sham trials that, you know, don’t take very long, where people are not afforded — allowed to have access to their lawyers. And it’s extremely concerning …

On the women’s reproductive rights front: “How quickly anti-abortion activists abandon plans never to be punitive: demand jail time for “pill trafficking:”

https://tinyurl.com/2fzsvd6a

But it is true that the democrats’ solid wins in many states and for many offices, and putting into state constitutions women’s rights to autonomy, care, and choices over their bodies show who in the US are also in the majority

Posted by Ellen

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A autumn syllabus for reading Trollope’s Last Chronicle of Barset and Joanna Trollope’s sequels at OLLI at Mason: Barsetshire Then & Now

For a course at the Oscher LifeLong Learning Institute at George Mason University
Day: Thursday afternoons, 2:15 to 3:40 pm,
F407: Two Trollopes: Anthony and Joanna: The Last Chronicle of Barset and The Rector’s Wife
8 sessions at Tallwood, T-3, 4210 Roberts Road, Fairfax, Va 22032
Dr Ellen Moody

Description of Course:

We’ll read Anthony Trollope’s The Last Chronicle of Barset, the last or 6th Barsetshire novel, one of his many masterpieces, once seen as his signature book. I’ve read with OLLI classes the first four; there is no need to read these, but we’ll discuss them to start with (the one just before is The Small House at Allington). His indirect descendent, Joanna Trollope, has recreated the central story or pair of characters, the Rev Josiah and Mary Crawley of the Last Chronicle in her Anna and Peter Bouverie in The Rector’s Wife in contemporary terms, which we’ll read and discuss in the last two weeks, together with her The Choir, a contemporary re-creation of the church politics and whole mise-en-scene of the Barsetshire series in general.

Required & Suggested Books:

Trollope, Anthony. The Last Chronicle of Barset, ed., introd, notes. Helen Small. NY: OxfordUP, 20011. Or
—————————————–——————————–, ed., introd, notes Sophie Gilmartin. NY: Penguin Classics, 2002. The Oxford edition is better because it has 2 appendices; one has Trollope’s Introduction to the Barsetshire, written after he finished; and the other very readable about church, class, religious politics in the era.
There is a readily available relatively inexpensive audio-recording of the novel read by Timothy West; an earlier one by Simon Vance. West’s more genial ironic voice is the one many people say they prefer.
Trollope, Joanna. The Rector’s Wife. 1991: rpt London: Bloomsbury, Black Swan book, 1997. Any edition of this book will do.
—————-. The Choir. NY: Random House, 1988. Any edition of this book will do too. We may not read this as a group, but I will discuss it.
There are also readily available relatively inexpensive audio-recordings of The Rector’s Wife and The Choir as single disk MP3s, read aloud by Nadia May for Audiobook.


Trollope’s own mapping of Barsetshire

Format: The class will be a mix of informal lecture and group discussion. You don’t have to follow the specific chapters as I’ve laid them out; I divide the books to help you read them, and so we can in class be more or less in the same section of the book. This part of the syllabus depends on our class discussions and we can adjust it. Please read ahead the first nine chapters.

Sept 22: 1st session: Introduction: Trollope’s life and career. The Barchester novels. LCB, Chs 10-19

Sept 29: 2nd: LCB, Chs 20-28
Oct 6: 3rd: LCB, Chs 29-39

Oct 13: 4th LCB, Chs 40-51
Oct 20: 5th: LCB, Chs 52-63
Oct 27: 6th: LCB, Chs 64-75
Nov 3: 7th: LCB, Chs 76-84
Nov 10: 8th:  Joanna Trollope’s The Rector’s Wife & LCB; what is omitted from this feminist reading?. 
Nov 17: 9th: Trollope’s The Choir. Trollope and Barsetshire today.

Suggested supplementary reading & film adaptations aka the best life-writing, a marvelous handbook & remarkable serials:

Anthony Trollope, An Autobiography and Other Writings, ed, introd., notes Nicholas Shrimpton. NY: Oxford Classics, 2014
—————-. “A Walk in the Woods,” online on my website: http://www.jimandellen.org/trollope/nonfiction.WalkWood.html
Joanna Trollope: Her official website
Gerould, Winifred Gregory and James Thayer Gerould. A Guide to Trollope: An Index to the Characters and Places, and Digests of the Plots, in All of Trollope’s Works. 1948: rpt Princeton: Princeton UP, 1987 (a paperback)
The Rector’s Wife, 4 part 1994 British serial (Masterpiece Theatre, with Lindsay Duncan, Jonathan Coy); The Choir, 5 part 1996 British serial (also Masterpiece Theater, with Jane Ascher, James Fox) — the first available as a DVD to be rented at Netflix, the second listed but in fact hard to find in the US


Lindsay Duncan as Anna Bouverie, the Mary Crawford character, first seen trying to make money by translating German texts (Rector’s Wife)


Boys’ choir taught by organ-master Nicholas Farrell as Leo Beckford (The Choir)

Recommended outside reading and viewing:

Aschkenasy, Nehanna. Eve’s Journey: Feminine Images in Hebraic Literary Tradition. Pennsylvania: Univ of Pennsylvania Press, 1986. Also Woman at the Window: Biblical Tales of Oppression and Escape. Detroit: Wayne State Univ Press, 1998.
Barchester Towers. Dir Giles Forster. Scripted Alan Plater. Perf. Donald Pleasance, Nigel Hawthorne, Alan Rickman, Geraldine McEwan, Susan Hampshire, Clive Swift, Janet Maw, Barbara Flynn, Angela Pleasance (among others). BBC 1983.
Bareham, Tony, ed. Trollope: The Barsetshire Novels: A Casebook. London: Macmillan Press, 1983.
Barnet, Victoria, “A review a The Rector’s Wife,” Christian Century, 112:2 (1995):60-63.
Doctor Thorne. Dir. Naill McCormick. Scripted Jerome Fellowes. Perf. Tom Hollander, Stephanie Martini, Ian McShane, Harry Richardson, Richard McCabe, Phoebe Nicholls, Rebecca Front, Edward Franklin, Janine Duvitsky (among others) ITV, 2015
Gates, Barbara. Victorian Suicide: Mad Crimes & Sad Histories. Princeton UP, 1998. Very readable.
Hennedy, Hugh L. Unity in Barsetshire. The Hague: Mouton, 1971. I recommend this readable, sensible and subtle book
Jeffreys, Sheila. The Spinster and her Enemies: Feminism and Sexuality, 1880-1930. 1985; Queen Margaret Univ College, Australia: Spinifex, 1997.
Mill, John Stuart, The Subjection of Women. Broadview Press, 2000. Online at: https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/m/mill/john_stuart/m645s/
Rigby, Sarah. “Making Lemonade,” London Review of Books, 17:11 (8 June 1995): 31-32. A defense of Joanna Trollope’s novels.
Robbins, Frank E. “Chronology and History in Trollope’s Barset and Parliamentary Novels,” Nineteenth Century Fiction, 5:4 (March 1951):303-16.
Snow, C. P. Trollope: An Illustrated Biography NY: New Amsterdam Books, 1975. A fairly short well written biography, profuse with illustrations and a concise description of Trollope’s centrally appealing artistic techniques.
Steinbach, Susie. Understanding The Victorians: Culture and Society in 19th century Britain. London: Routledge, 2012.
Trollope, Joanna. Her official website. A selection: Other People’s Children, Next of Kin, Best of Friends.
Vicinus, Martha. Independent women: Work and Community for Single Women, 1850-1930. Virago, 1985. See my summary and analysis: https://ellenandjim.wordpress.com/2019/01/11/martha-vicinuss-independent-women-work-community-for-single-women-1850-1930/


Arthur Arthur Frazer, “It’s Dogged as Does It” (early illustration for Last Chronicle of Barset)


Artemisia Gentileschi, Jael and Sisera: in one subplot an artist paints a rich young heiress as Jael

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friends and readers,

For the last couple of weeks on and off I’ve been reading and considering Jane Austen and Anthony Trollope post-texts; to wit, Joanna Trollope’s Sense & Sensibility; The Rector’s Wife and The Choir, not to omit Joanna’s central contemporary fiction, thus far Other People’s Children. I’ve been surprised in how gripped I’ve been over these four books. While I have before on this blog written strongly praising this or that Austen sequel or film appropriation of a sequel (Jo Baker’s Longbourn, Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary, Cindy Jones’s My Jane Austen Summer: A Season in Mansfield Park, the film Julie Towhidi made from PD James’s Death Comes to Pemberley), I’ve never been quite so taken as I have by Joanna Trollope’s book. Trollope’s book is part of the reason I’ve been equally taken by the much more decided updated Schine book (I know I often like her book reviews for the NYRB.)

So I’ve been trying, you see, to think why people enjoy reading prequels, sequels, plain rewrites, or rewrites from a particular political POV of their favorite author, and how, also what precisely they find deeply appealing (or, contrariwise) deeply appalling. (Recall this summer I read and taught Valerie Martin’s Mary Reilly a post-text to R. L. Stevenson’s Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.) I truly loved Towhidi’s film, and have truly regarded as uneven semi-imbecilic complacent gush other sequels recently written and much praised, or older and still frequently cited (as Janice Hadlow’s The Other Bennet Sister [Mary])


That Anna Maxwell Martin came closer to the way I like to imagine Elizabeth Bennet than any other actress helps account for my response to Death Comes to Pemberley, the movie

It’s obviously in the interplay between the originating book and this one that the pleasure, insight and compelling interest forward lies. We relive a favorite book from a modernized POV, we discover what happened to our beloved characters after the original author brought down the curtain, or we discover what they were like well before our favorite book began. One element, however, important, that explains why such wildly different reactions to the same or different sequels to the same book can occur is we (at least I) expect that the new author will be reading the original book in the spirit we have, that the new author share our POV on our favorite author or her books or life’s experiences or lead heroines. Once that is kept to or satisfied, it’s fascinating to see what a different genre shaping the same material can throw out (P&P as mystery thriller, or time-traveling tale, e.g, P&P as Lost in Austen, Persuasion as Lake House; the Austen matter as science fiction, Kathleen Flynn’s The Jane Austen Project)


This is also a time-traveling tale (very realistically imagined)

For me it’s probably important that my favorite among Austen’s six (more or less) finished mature fictions is Sense and Sensibility; that’s why I delighted in Trollope’s rewrite and Schine’s Three Weissmans (Margaret is omitted, the third main heroine is now the Mrs Dashwood figure). Also I find I compulsively read and become deeply engaged by Joanna Trollope’s contemporary fiction (e.g, Other People’s Children), about which she talks very insightfully in this video of hers, a contribution to the Literary Lockdown festival at Chawton House, done in the second year of the pandemic. Listen up:

She is a British variant on what Anne Tyler tries to provide American readers with (I loved Tyler’s Amateur Marriage, among others)

Tonight remembering my promise to keep these blogs reasonably sized, and because I’m tired over my day of exploring this topic across many Austen sequels (and the two Anthony Trollope’s, Rector’s Wife and The Choir) I will just thoroughly cover only one: Joanna Trollope’s Sense and Sensibility. See briefer comment on The Three Weissmanns in comments and The JA Project (when I’ve read it in a coming blog.)

******************************************************

What Joanna Trollope does marvelously well in her Sense and Sensibility rewrite is extrapolate out of the psychological analysis Austen suggests to offer us a contemporarily worded version; she is franker, more candid, more critical of those hurting the heroines as well as the heroines themselves. We come away more satisfied by the discourse surrounding the scenes, though (especially in the central sequence of Austen’s novel, from the time of Lucy inflicting knowledge of Edward’s engagement to Lucy upon Elinor, up to Marianne nearly bringing death upon herself in her humiliated grief) Austen has more bite, more acid, more visceral vividness, more sheer grief.

She read Austen’s book from the same angle and in the same light I do. For Joanna Trollope the central event of the book occurs when at the end of volume 1 Lucy forces on Elinor the knowledge of Lucy’s long term engagement to Elinor; I still remember how shaken I was reading Volume 2, Chapter 1, how searing I found Elinor’s agon and vigil. No one comes as close as Emma Thompson to capturing this emotional torture hidden. As in the old fable, like a wolf hugged to your chest, devouring your innards. Joanna Trollope has the revelation also as placed in last chapter of her Volume 1. Trollope takes equally seriously the humiliation of Marianne in a London public assembly — it occurs in a fashionable church wedding at the center of the book.

There is also more than a whiff of memory of some of scenes of the different film adaptations (she has watched many of them) and I can see the 2008 Andrew Davies’ cast in a number of the roles: it’s Hattie Morahan and Charity Wakefield’s voices and gestures and words she remembers; it’s Dominic Cooper’s crude cad for Willoughby; but she takes the elegant Robert Swann from the 1983 dark S&S by Alexander Baron for her Brandon). The lingering memories are from the exquisite beautiful photography of the Thompson/Ang movie. Mrs Jennings is tamed down (a loss there). Gemma Jones’s sense of bereftness in Mrs Dashwood remembered (1995 film).

For me an entrancing aspect of Joanna Trollope’s book is how closely she followed her original text; it’s as if she taxed herself literally to rewrite in 21st century terms. Keep as close as she could. So I made another outline of the type I have for Austen’s own books, not of a timeline this time, but of the parallels.

Trollope’s chapters much more of a consistent length, all longish, developed chapters; both novels divided into 3 volumes; these are consistent in length in Austen but not Trollope. In my old Penguin, Austen’s book is 323 pages; Trollope’s is 361.


Cooper as Willoughby and Morahan as Elinor in the confession scene, the angry paradigm adhered to (only softened from Austen’s austerity)

Volume I

First phase: Norland

Austen, Chapters 1-5 the time at Norland.

Trollope, Chapters 1 to the opening of 4: Trollope has Sir John Middleton come for a visit to invite them to Barton Park; she includes the beginning of the romance of Edward and Elinor; Chapter 2, Edward goes and comes back from Devonshire where he reports are affordable cottages (excuse is this is where he went to school); he is not on Facebook …

Second phase: Early phase of Barton Park and Cottage

Austen, Chapters 6-8 first experiences at Barton Park (meeting Mrs J, Brandon), Chapter 7: very brief, insipidity of Lady Middleton; Chapters 9-10 walk in rain where Willoughby rescues Marianne (car an Aston Martin) and then Willoughby’s first visit, romance begins quickly;
Austen, Chapters 11, 12, 13: offer of horse, are they engaged?, the broken off picnic and visit of Willoughby and Marianne to Allenham Chapter 14, dialogue on the merits of a cottage, Chapter 15 Willoughby suddenly must go; half way through 16 Edward arrives and stays until most of 18, into 19 when Elinor alone …

Trollope, Chapters 4-5 first experiences at Barton Park, meet same people (Brandon p 70). The treehouse from 1995 movie brought in. The walk in rain where Willoughby rescues Marianne (he rescues, comes to Barton cottage and leaves within a few minutes);
Trollope, Chapter 6 Elinor gets a job with Peter Austen firm; broken up picnic, rivalry of Willoughby (very nasty) and Brandon; time at Allingham where we learn later they did fuck in a bed there;
Trollope, Chapter 7 Marianne and Willoughby left alone, they return to find he’s gone, and no explanation just briefest of words; Marianne in tears but stubbornly says he is true; second half is Edward’s visit, thin, tired, in battered old Ford Sierra (p 141); he is gone early in Chapter 8, “no unhappier than usual.”


Gemma Jones as bereft Mrs Dashwood at Barton Cottage (1995 film)

Third phase – coming of Lucy and Nancy Steele, and proposal to go to London

Austen, Chapters 19-22: Coming of Palmers, then Lucy and Nancy Steele, then Lucy forcing confidences of engagement on Elinor (long almost 3 chapter sequence).

Trollope, Chapter 8 Among other things Elinor says Edward’s mother is his problem not mine and he’s got to stand up to her (a motif in the novels by Joanna Trollope I’ve read thus far: people have got to stand up to other people in order to survive); the Palmers and Steeles’s arrival, also ends on Lucy’s forcing confidences on Elinor.

Volume II

Austen, Chapters 23-25, p 117: Elinor’s vigil, dialogue with Lucy, enforced trip to London.
Trollope, Chapter 9, p 175: Elinor’s vigil, she caves into pressure to go to London.

Fourth phase: London

Austen, Chapters 26-29: Marianne seeking Willoughby; Brandon shows up; the climax at assembly; Willoughby’s letters …
Austen, Chapters 31-32: Aftermath, Brandon’s history of Willoughby and Eliza Williams; Chapter 33: John and Fanny Dashwood in town; Chapter 34 now Elinor supposedly humiliated by Mrs Ferrars over Miss Morton, but it’s Marianne who collapses (called “the important Tuesday to meet the formidable mother-in-law); Chapter 35 again Lucy visits, the encounter of the two rivals with Edward Chapeter 36: forced to spend time with Middleton’s and Dashwoods while Mrs Jennings tends to Charlotte and her new baby, they meet Robert; Lucy invited to stay with Fanny Dashwood.

[It does seem to me these central chapters of S&S are inexpressibly superior to the rewrite, and that the rewrite depends on our memory of these central chapters]

Trollope, Chapter 10 Much more interweaving between London and Barton Cottage before leaving London for Cleveland Park; London, Marianne with Mrs Jennings, Elinor visiting weekends begins and, in this chapter, the public humiliation of Marianne occurs at a wedding, it is caught on video and appears on YouTube, here it’s Tommy Palmer who rescues Marianne (imitating the 1983 movie where Brandon scoops her up);
Trollope, Chapter 11, p 207: Brandon offers modernized version of Eliza Williams and Willoughby’s betrayal of Brandon’s ward become a drug addict, John Dashwood’s urging Brandon on Elinor and ugly warning she cannot have Edward;
Trollope, Chapter 12, p 225: this includes brief return to Barton Cottage (as in 2008/9 film) and second climactic humiliation by Mrs Ferrars of Elinor with Lucy watching – ludicrous rivalry over children, Bill Brandon here (Bill as a name made me cringe; I much preferred Emma Thompson’s choice of Christopher);
Trollope, Chapter 13, p 251 – they are leaving London, destination Barton cottage, Fanny’s absurd invitation to the Steele sisters, Elinor resolves not to be victim any more – so at the end of Volume 2 we are at the same place in this new book as Austen’s.

Volume III

Austen, Chapter 37 (starts at 1 again), p 217, and we have Mrs Jennings running in breathless to report the debacle at the Dashwoods over Nancy telling Fanny that Lucy and Edward engaged, the child with red gum (or something else) and John Dashwood’s outrageously amoral response (which he thinks pious); Chapter 38: Elinor’s meeting with Nancy Steele at Kensington (the information about Edward used best by 1971 production; Chapter 39: Colonel’s offer of vicarage position to Edward and Lucy; 40-41 Dashwood’s astonishment, Edward’s despair and all ready to leave for Cleveland Park.

Trollope, Chapter 14, p 261: now it’s after birth of Palmer child, and Mrs Jennings’s to and fro, that Marianne learns of Edward’s engagement to Lucy and Elinor insists Marianne not humiliate Elinor further or harass Edward, insists Edward, however mad in this, doing the right thing –- against all his family’s hideous values. Elinor explicitly stands up for a different set of norms (which Austen does not); Marianne’s beginning her slow self-regenerating conversion to a better person;
Trollope, Chapter 15, p 273: Marianne and Elinor (& Margaret there so too Mrs Dashwood) – action back at Barton and also Exeter – Brandon and Elinor meet (she is now Ellie all the time, and a new take on Edward’s behavior: although on principle admirable, psychologically and sociologically deeply self-destructive, a form of madness understandable from his background and present circumstances (I did think of the 1971 Robin Ellis in his attic); Elinor tells Edward of job offer from Brandon.

Fifth phase: return to Devonshire in stages, denouement and quick coda

Austen, Chapters 42-43: The trek to Cleveland and Marianne’s semi-suicidal walk, deep illness, recovery; Chapter 44: Willoughby’s visit, confession, Elinor’s forgiveness (irritating, scene skipped in 1996 and finally made condemnatory in 2008); Chapter 45: mother’s arrival; Brandon begins ascendancy with mother; Chapters 46-47: home again, Marianne improving, Elinor reports Willoughby’s confession and we are to understand but Marianne now determines she was herself in the wrong when compared to Elinor (Imlac like); Brandon hanging about; Thomas’s tale of Edward’s marriage to Lucy;
Austen, Chapters 48-49: Elinor’s distress until Edward’s return; the renewal and engagement; 50: coping with Mrs Ferrars; Lucy wins out, as a coda too quickly put there Marianne we are told succumbs to Brandon.

Trollope, Chapter 16: Marianne still at Cleveland and catches bad cold, moves to pneumonia (possibly), but Elinor does not realize, only with her asthma takes turn to where she must be hospitalized in emergency room, in time to be saved – whole long sequence here; does recover, Bill goes for Mrs Dashwood; Chapter 17: another packed chapter with Elinor’s inward soliloquy, talk with mother, the news of Edward’s marriage, Marianne back, and then Edward shows up, unmarried to Lucy but eager for Elinor;
Trollope, Chapters 18-19: there are analogues for each move in the last chapters of S&S including John and Fanny’s despicable norms (made explicitly obnoxious), Mrs Ferrars’s despicable (made contemptible) consistency, the coming together through a walk of Marianne and Brandon, of talk and joy in Elinor and Edward (they take over tree house), but alas Trollope is much weaker than Austen’s; one factor is that Austen is much quicker at this ending because Trollope concerned to build up relationship between Brandon and Marianne, to bring Marianne back down to reality much more slowly; make more understandable what happened to Edward.

[Trollope’s Elinor only central presence from Volume II opening on but not quite the suffusion across and within the text of that Austen’s Elinor is.]

And yet at the end of the book, it is not Austen’s POV that lifts our hearts, and makes us feel the troubles we have been through with our heroines are endurable; it’s Trollope’s. For the style is finally her deft one; several attitudes of hers rather than Austen’s — her characters are far more intertwined with one another than most of Austen’s (except when it comes to a sister, close friend in suffering). Class injuries are at the core of Austen’s books, gender inequality (except for female bullies) Trollope’s.

I have been told the 6 writers chosen for this project of rewriting, modernizing Jane Austen’s novels were told to keep the new books “light” — I’m glad to report Joanna Trollope didn’t do this.


Ang Lee’s landscapes from 1995 felt remembered

Ellen

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Early still of Clare turning away from vase in window, Inverness, Halloween, evening (Outlander S1Ep1)

I’ll do it online from OLLI at George Mason:

Our foundational books will be Maria Tatar’s, The Heroine with 1001 Faces, and Maureen Murdock’s The Heroine’s Journey. The class will read as a pair Margaret Atwood’s Penelopiad and Liz Lochhead’s Medea; and for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th sessions, Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber and Other Tales; Elena Ferrante’s Lost Daughter; and Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. Participants will discuss what journeys the heroines of classical myth, fairy tales, realistic fiction, historical and gothic romance, and in detective stories take; what ordeals and life experiences they typically have; archetypal patterns in art by women; and what they value themselves for. The instructor will suggest people watch (but they need not) as part of our two compelling heroines from TV serials, and we’ll discuss over the first half of the term, Outlander, S1E1 (Caitriona Balfe as Claire Beauchamp transported), and over the second half, Prime Suspect S1E1 (Helen Mirren as Jane Tennison).


Wonderful book

Ellen

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